We overcome two of the most daunting challenges in single-particle diffractive imaging: collecting many high-quality diffraction patterns on a small amount of sample and separating components from mixed samples. We demonstrate this on carboxysomes, which are polyhedral cell organelles that vary in size and facilitate up to 40% of Earth's carbon fixation. A new aerosol sample-injector allowed us to record 70,000 low-noise diffraction patterns in 12...min with the Linac Coherent Light Source running at 120...Hz. We separate different structures directly from the diffraction data and show that the size distribution is preserved during sample delivery. We automate phase retrieval and avoid reconstruction artefacts caused by missing modes. We attain the highest-resolution reconstructions on the smallest single biological objects imaged with an X-ray laser to date. These advances lay the foundations for accurate, high-throughput structure determination by flash-diffractive imaging and offer a means to study structure and structural heterogeneity in biology and elsewhere.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics